He had four suggestions on what can be done to “earn” the necessary support, including having the industry make an effort to integrate environmental conservation earlier in the process, and not as an apparent afterthought.
“The greatest public objection to petroleum development of all kinds centres around their environmental impacts,” he says, and points to the province’s youth as being the most hostile. “In their thinking they integrate, rather than separate, resource development and environmental conservation every step along the way.”
To ensure what he calls “full cost accounting” for energy projects, he proposes determining what the environmental impacts are for each stage of a project when designing it, adopting the best practices to mitigate those impacts, and be prepared to have the cost of those mitigation measures integrated into the ultimate price.
Manning advised government officials to identify the population that is undecided on resource development, or the “mushy middle”, and work to convince them of its urgency.
“That there’s not an unlimited amount of time, and an unlimited opportunity for them to make up their mind if the benefits of the proposed project to be realized,” he told the audience. “There’s a fairly narrow window for proceeding with these various energy projects proposed for British Columbia and western Canada. The Americans are moving closer to energy self-sufficiency, and becoming less dependent, rather than more dependent, on imports from Canada.”
Another of his points was to not “over promise” resource development benefits, as that’s an easy way to lose the public’s trust.
“It’s important that energy projects be given the time to get into a profitable, sustainable position capable of attracting more investment to the sector before leaping all over them with excessive taxes or royalty regimes in order to meet overblown promises of what they will contribute to provincial revenues, to provincial tax reduction, or provincial debt reduction.”
Lastly, he urged communities to find a unique individual that is qualified to work with both the public and industry, that can act as a mediator between the two sides.
The Energy Conference continues Wednesday and Thursday with further discussions.